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Provence for a Week in May

Try Crillon le Brave... extraordinary location, hotel, restaurant. Roasted lamb from their hearth, amazing provencal menu. Have a glass of wine on their patio overlooking vineyards and mountains.

Oct 14, 2009
Francoise in France

Help! La Regalade or Aux Lyonnais?

I have not eaten at Regalade, but have at both Josephine and Aux Lyonnais. I loved them both, and while they are both casual, more traditionalist bistros, the cooking and experience is very different. Aux Lyonnais was one of my favorite meals in Paris (Josephine was the other). Lyonnais is informal but perfectly executed, affordable, and was just a fabulous experience. Here is the ile flottante and savarin that we had that night; both were spectacular.

Oct 14, 2009
Francoise in France

Paris at Christmas: Worth the trip?

This is all great guys -- thank you so much -- when we were there in September it was too warm to really dive into some of the heartier cold-weather fare (chocolat chaud, civet, sanglier, biche, coq au vin, even cassoulet, other game meats etc.) and generally, many restaurants weren't serving those at that time. Also excited to do the traditional French oyster/champagne holiday celebration -- we were told many restaurants will prepare plateaus to take away, so that could be great. And of course, marrons glacees, buches de noel, etc.! We also weren't able to do any markets properly last time (hotels don't take kindly to you dumping the minibar on the floor in favor of your giant hunk of weeping Epoisses) so renting an apt so we can cook (and do the suggested foie and hopefully... truffles!) seems like a fantastic idea. Really love the opp to do try some special game meats and preparations we don't see much over here. Thanks again!

Oct 09, 2009
Francoise in France

Anyone ever eat the egg raft after clarifying stock?

No prob! It was a series of pork additions/subtraction in steps, over one day. Here was the process:

I had the remains of a whole roast pig from a previous party (hooray!), stripped of bones and larger pieces of connective tissue, etc. Simmered that all day with herbs, garlic and a couple of gallons of water to make a (very cloudy but delicious) broth.

Broke my pork down into yummy, tender shreds (have been making simple, but delicious, bbq pulled pork sandwiches with it this week -- soft onion bun, pork in vinegary sauce, slice of onion. Wow.)

Took resulting broth, and made raft (pound of lean ground pork, abt 1.5 c mirepoix, bay, sage, thyme, salt, pepper, 5 egg whites, fully combined -- NO shells) and added it to broth, brought it to simmer in the way explained better by others above. After a couple of hours, carefully broke a large(er) hole in the raft and ladled the clear consomme out. Reveled in self-satisfaction.

Took resulting raft, (no new raw pork) and mixed seasoning to taste, then about 1c neutral breadcrumbs and two beaten eggs. This should make a beautiful, soft, porky filling. Used this to fill the perogies. (It made at least 3+dozen, maybe a few more).

For the meatballs, I added a bit more egg and crumbs so they would hold together, but they were still very soft. I formed and placed these on a cookie sheet and popped them in the freezer, but you could lower them into gently simmering broth (maybe what you just made?) right away.

If you don't have a whole pig, this would be a fun way to do a nice big shoulder, which you could then shred for sandwiches, and go from there. Or, a la David Lebovitz' recipe, chunk it and then fry for carnitas. Good luck! :-)

Oct 08, 2009
Francoise in Home Cooking

Paris at Christmas: Worth the trip?

Oh, and delucacheesemonger as well! Look forward to your thoughts.

Oct 08, 2009
Francoise in France

Paris at Christmas: Worth the trip?

My husband and I spent a (too short) week in Paris in September and are dying to go back as soon as possible (not enough time for all the art, food, shopping, chocolate and wine we wanted to cram in).

Because of our work schedules, December may be the only time we can go. We've heard that Paris at Christmastime is wonderful (skating rinks, store decorations, chocolat chaud, etc.) and are wondering if it's worth braving the cold to experience Paris around Noël. A question for our Parisians (Souphie!) and expats (John Talbott!), or anyone who's visited around the holidays, should we come, or is the weather too oppressive to have a good time? And are shops and restaurants on abbreviated holiday schedules, or is everything typically open? We want to just eat, visit hotels, shop, and fill up on our share of coq au vin, boeuf bourguinonne, and other hearty fall fare, perhaps with less competition from other *touristes Americanes*. Thank you in advance!

Oct 08, 2009
Francoise in France

Mid Priced meals in Paris

You MUST go to Josephine chez Dumonet. Order the duck confit (widely believed to be the best and crispiest in Paris) and the Boeuf Bourguinonne.

Also consider Aux Lyonnais, walking distance from the Place de L'Opera. It's an Alain Ducasse restaurant, but very casual, excellent bistro food, and they have a great formûle (prix fixe) dinner for around 30E that is just fantastic.

Be aware that a lot of good restaurants aren't open at lunch, so you may need to rethink your lunch/dinner strategy, but almost every good restaurant has a formûle on their menu, so you can eat inexpensively and well almost anywhere.

Finally, check out davidlebovitz.com for more recommendations -- he's an American expat living in Paris and has lots of great ideas for affordable meals and shops to visit (great bakeries and cafes, Laduree and Maison du Chocolat, etc).

And don't worry about the foie. It's everywhere. You won't be able to avoid it! The problem will be trying to ONLY eat it once. We just returned from Paris and once ate it for lunch and dinner in the same day. Whoof!

Oct 08, 2009
Francoise in France

100% grass fed beef. Icky! Am I crazy?

I'll agree that what you had was probably oxidized beef. I've had rancid/oxidized corn-fed meat before -- I don't think the bad taste had to do with it's provenance.

We eat almost exclusively grass-fed beef and buffalo, and I prefer it so much to grain-fed beef that on the rare occasion I go to a steakhouse and order a corn-fed steak, I am immediately struck by how flavorless and "not-beefy" it is (I have given up filets forever. Just 'cause something is tender doesn't make it delicious. Flabby, bland, overpriced. Boo.) We just served grass-fed buffalo strips at a party, and they were the tenderest, most flavorful (and with only moderate marbling) steaks we had ever had. Our guests remarked on how delicious they were and didn't realize they were Buffalo until we told them.

Re: Mr. Jig's (furious!) post, I don't think this is food snobbery. I think trying to eat in a way that respects the environment, and also your family's health (who wants to eat meat from an animal that spent it's last days standing knee-deep in feces, eating ground up bits of other animals and being pumped full of drugs to keep multiple infections at bay? Yuck!). Most other developed countries pasture their cows (I just spent three weeks in France and didn't see one feedlot -- drive a couple of hours in California and it's nothing but manure and miserable cows as far as the eye can see) and it's better for the animals, better for the environment, and better for you.

Give it one more try. Whole Foods is a very reliable place to get certified, sustainable, grass-fed meats. Don't write it off just yet!

Oct 07, 2009
Francoise in General Topics

Anyone ever eat the egg raft after clarifying stock?

This is far after the fact, but I just made a beautiful pork consomme (leftovers from an eighty-pound suckling roast that we did; a whole other saga) and used more ground pork, mirepoix and herbs for the raft (no eggshells). After reading this thread, I decided to taste the raft... and it was DELICIOUS. Tender, porky, light in texture, and very little fat. I didn't strain the consomme as many below describe, but ladled it out through a hole in the raft into a china cap, so the raft never touched dish towel of any kind.

So I was left with a big pile of cooked, seasoned ground pork mixed with vegetables, herbs and egg whites. After much internet searching, I decided to make perogies. I added a little bit of bread crumb and some egg yolks and additional seasoning to the pork (most of the salt stayed behind in the consomme). The scratch dough, to which I added fresh thyme, was easy to make, and with the filling, made about eighty perogies. I still had some filling left, which I used to make small, tender pork meatballs.

Put it all back together and what do you have? Delicious pork soup with dumplings and meatballs. Mad, mad genius.

The raft worked great, my consomme was crystal clear, and there was no waste. So my advice is leave off the egg shells, use good-quality ground meat for your raft (which will improve the quality of your stock anyway) and then come up with something even better than I did for the leftovers.

(See adorable "rafty" perogies below, waiting to be pan fried, boiled in soup, or, sweet heavens, deep fried to a golden brown.)

Oct 07, 2009
Francoise in Home Cooking